Care Compass Network Expands Access to Quality Trainings in the Southern Tier

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Care Compass Network (CCN) offers a variety of skills development trainings to their partner organizations across the Southern Tier. In 2018, CCN has trained over 1,400 individuals and during the first half of 2019, another 760 individuals have been trained so far. Bringing these trainings to the Southern Tier is helping partners to continually provide high quality care to the people they serve in a compassionate and equitable way.

As the Coordinator of Dual Recovery Services at Tompkins County Mental Health, Rich Shaw sees great opportunity to further spread trainings in Health Literacy, Mental Health First Aid, SBIRT, and Motivational Interviewing with agencies from all over Care Compass Network’s 9-county region. All of these trainings, used in conjunction with one another, can have great impact on the quality of services being provided. “These trainings are widely applicable to colleges, substance use treatment programs, and first responders. There are so many populations and agencies that can benefit from these trainings,” says Shaw.

While health literacy has an array of ways to be implemented Shaw applies it in his trainings as a way to bridge the gap between the knowledge health professionals have and the understanding that those receiving treatment have of their diagnoses and treatments. “In the field of mental health treatment, we have a specific way of talking and thinking that includes a lot of acronyms and terms that are exclusive to our field. When people come in for treatment, it can seem like we’re speaking a different language,” he explains. When applying health literacy, providers consider how they speak to patients and ensure that there is a clear understanding of the diagnoses and treatment. In doing this, individuals are more confident in managing their own care.

When being trained, Shaw learned that research shows when people are explaining their concerns to their providers, they are typically interrupted 18 seconds into their explanation. While there are many underlying reasons for this occurrence, it’s important to realize that person might not be given enough time to explain their symptoms and consequently health professionals might not be getting  clear picture resulting in miscommunication. Through health literacy, providers are learning to be more mindful, that their explanations are clear and a dialogue is occurring that ensures both parties are understanding the same thing in the same way.

This is extremely important when people have co-occurring issues, such as mental health and substance use. ” In the case where someone has both a substance use and a mental health issue, this understanding is extremely important. These are fairly complex issues and we are spending a limited amount of time with people. If we are using argon and not necessarily hearing what patients are saying, we could be traying to provide treatment without really knowing what the true nature of the problem is,” explains Shaw.

As the Coordinator of Dual Recovery Services, Shaw looks at both mental health and substance use disorders. While those two things are often spoken of separately, Shaw is quick to remind people that “substance use disorders are mental health problems, they are very closely related and they often happen together.” Mental Health First Aid training is helping people understand that approaching these topics simultaneously is the best way to do so effectively.

Mental Health First Aid is also helping open dialogue of first responders amongst themselves, creating a welcoming atmosphere for conversations to occur. During the training they are encouraged to discuss their own experiences treating overdoses in the community and working with fellow professionals who have their own mental health issues like PTSD.

Shaw also works to spread training for SBIRT, which is a quick screening used for substance use disorders.  SBIRT stands for Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment. “People want to be equipped to help when the opportunity arises,” says Shaw. “Some people are afraid or anxious around situations where people talk about substance use because they aren’t sure how to address it. The SBIRT training helps people learn a clear way to intervene effectively.” With SBIRT, risky substance use behaviors are assessed using standardized screening tools. This screening can occur in any setting. If the person shows risky behaviors, feedback and advice are given during a short during a short conversation and then they person is referred to therapy or other treatments.

Understanding motivational interviewing can be helpful in conjunction with SBIRT. This technique helps resolve ambivalence to changing a risky behavior. Instead of asking patients to take action when they aren’t ready motivational interviewing  trains people to work with the individual to take small steps towards progress. As well, during this training, learners understand how to have a conversation with the individual so there is less chance they become defensive.

Communication is a key to providing excellent care for the people you service, no matter the setting they are being seen in. Theses trainings are helping bring a better understanding of the impact of our communication with those we serve and refine how we approach it.

Care Compass Network offers over 22 different trainings throughout the year. Visit the events calendar on our website to see a full listing of our trainings. If you have any suggestions on trainings that you would like to see, contact our Workforce Team.